Thursday, February 11, 2016

1000 Black Girl Books

Marley Dias, with some of the #1000blackgirlbooks.
Marley Dias with some of her 1000 books
11-year-old Marley Dias, whose mother is from St. Mary, Jamaica, was frustrated with being given books to read about white boys and their dogs. Her mother, Janice Johnson Dias, asked her what she was going to do about it, so in November, Marley, with the help of her mother, launched a drive to collect 1000 Black Girl Books. 
          At Stacked Books, author and blogger Kelly Jensen raised nearly $3,000 in donations to help “this fabulous girl collect the books she wanted to meet her goal”, sending Dias a huge range of picture books, young adult titles and more.

Bookseller Barnes & Noble also donated books to the drive, saying that “some books introduce us to characters who are different from us, allowing us to see the world from a new perspective. But for children in the process of figuring out who they are, and who they want to be, it is just as important to also read stories about characters they can relate to, and see themselves in.”
Marley also appeared on US chat show Ellen, where she was given a laptop, and a cheque for $10,000 donated by Shutterfly. By February 9, 2016, she had reached her goal.
           This is an amazing achievement. Not only has Marley reached her goal, but she is also planning to donate the books to schools in the USA and to a library in St. Mary, Jamaica. I hope she will be coming in person to deliver these books and that she will get media coverage here.
   Marley’s drive highlights a problem. In the USA, where Kelly Jensen found that Black Girl Books were not as easily sourced, or prominently displayed as books about white children. When I first saw the hashtag “1000BlackGirlBooks”, I assumed that there were 1000 different titles, but that does not seem to have been the case. Kelly’s list included 45 picture books/early readers, 59 middle grade (8-12), 78 young adult (12-15), 16 Adult crossover, and 16 Graphic novels: total: 214.There was more than one copy of some books.
          In Jamaica, where at least 92% of the population is of African descent, the books available in bookshops and libraries do not reflect that. The bookshops display prominently books by Enid Blyton (1897 – 1968) considered to be racist by some people; Nancy Drew books; The Hardy Boys books; and The Diary of the Wimpy Kid, which is an-easy-to-read comic in book form and highly culture-bound. They don’t put Jamaican books on such prominent display (you have to search for them) and stock very few because, they say, “They don’t sell.” Who is buying these books? Mainly adults. Why are they not buying the Jamaican books? Because they don’t know about them. Diane Browne has written repeatedly about the need for Jamaican children to see themselves in books, but as Curdella Forbes pointed out  "Those who can afford to buy books have extensive options offered by the distributing giant Scholastic. With multiple outlets in the Caribbean, Scholastic leaves its local competitors far behind.” For lists of books by Jamaican authors, see my blog posts, for 8-12 year-olds and for younger children.
     The Jamaican Libraries, including school libraries, are mainly stocked by donations, so again the ethnicity and settings of these books don’t reflect the majority of the population and the Jamaican culture.  
      To be fair to the educational system and Ministry of Education, Jamaican and Caribbean books, including novels, plays and poetry, are on school book lists and on the CSEC  syllabus.
     Marley Dias is one in a million (many millions). I'm sure she won't mind us jumping on her band-wagon, and perhaps she will inspire Jamaican girls (and boys) to do something similar. But why is it, that up to now, children aren't asking for Jamaican books in book stores? Many of them never go into a book store or library. Of those who do, have they been brainwashed into thinking that there are no Jamaican authors and that only white people are heroes and heroines in books? And that it is more advantageous to have a white skin, hence the proliferation of bleaching? Perhaps Marley's drive can be a catalyst for change. Looking forward to hearing more about her.
Kelly Jensen’s list
Picture Books/Early Reader Title
  1. Abby by Jeannette Caines
  2. Anna, Banana, and The Big-Mouth Bet by Anica Mrose Rissi
  3. Anna, Banana, and The Friendship Split by Anica Mrose Rissi
  4. Anna, Banana, and The Monkey In The Middle by Anica Mrose Rissi
  5. Anna, Banana, and The Puppy Parade by Anica Mrose Rissi
  6. Anna Hibiscus (collection) by Atinuke
  7. Ballerina Dreams by Michaela DePrince*
  8. Black Mother Goose Book by Elizabeth Murphy Oliver
  9. Brown Angels: An Album of Pictures and Verse by Walter Dean Myers*
  10. Cassie’s Word Quilt by Faith Ringgold
  11. A Chair for My Mother by Vera B Williams
  12. Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen
  13. Don’t Call Me Grandma by Vaunda Nelson
  14. Ellington Was Not A Street by Ntozake Shange
  15. Firebird by Misty Copeland*
  16. The Granddaughter Necklace by Sharon Dennis Wyeth
  17. Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales by Virginia Hamilton
  18. I Got The Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison
  19. I’m A Pretty Little Black Girl by Betty K Bynum
  20. Jazz Age Josephine: Dancer, Singer, Who’s That, Who? Why That’s Miss Josephine Baker To You! by Jonah Winter*
  21. Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell*
  22. Keena Ford and the Field Trip Mixup by Melissa Thompson
  23. Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters by Andrea Davis Pinkney*
  24. Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown*
  25. The Little Piano Girl: The Story of Mary Lou Williams, Jazz Legend by Ann Ingalls*
  26. Mae Jemison: Biography by Jodie Shepherd*
  27. Molly by Golly: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter by Dianne Ochiltree*
  28. Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John Steptoe
  29. My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay by Cari Best
  30. Hair Dance by Dinah Johnson*
  31. One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul*  
  32. One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck
  33. Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson
  34. Ruby and the Booker Boys #1: Brand New School, Brave New Ruby by Derrick Barnes
  35. Ruby and the Booker Boys #2: Trivia Queen, 3rd Grade Supreme by Derrick Barnes
  36. The Secret Olivia Told Me by N. Joy
  37. She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick*
  38. The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
  39. Sugar Plum Ballerinas: Plum Fantastic by Whoopi Goldberg
  40. Sugar Plum Ballerinas: Toeshoe Trouble by Whoopi Goldberg
  41. Swing Sisters: The Story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm by Karen Deans*
  42. Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
  43. Voice of Freedom: Fanny Lou Hammer by Carole Boston Weatherford*
  44. Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees by Franck Prévot
  45. Wangari’s Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter*



Middle Grade (some are higher level and some lower)

  1. Almost Zero by Nikki Grimes
  2. At Her Majesty’s Request: An African Princess in Victorian England by Walter Dean Myers*
  3. Bayou Magic by Jewel Parker Rhodes
  4. Bird by Crystal Chan
  5. brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson*
  6. Camo Girl by Kekla Magoon
  7. The Case of the Missing Museum Archives by Steve Brezenoff
  8. Celeste’s Harlem Renaissance by Eleanora E Tate
  9. Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
  10. The Cheetah Girls by Deborah Gregory
  11. Ernestine and Amanda by Sandra Belton
  12. Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson
  13. The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman
  14. Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton
  15. A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer
  16. Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia
  17. Half-Way to Perfect by Nikki Grimes
  18. Hold Fast by Blue Balliett
  19. The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
  20. The Laura Line by Crystal Allen
  21. Leaving Gee’s Bend by Irene Latham
  22. Let The Circle Be Unbroken by Mildred D. Taylor
  23. Little Rock Girl 1957: How a Photograph Changed the Fight for Integration by Shelley Tougas*
  24. Ludell by Brenda Wilkinson
  25. The Magnificent Mya Tubbs: Spirit Week Showdown by Crystal Allen
  26. Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes
  27. Maritcha: A Nineteenth Century American Girl by Tonya Bolden
  28. The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
  29. Mo-Ne Davis: Remember My Name by Mo’ne Davis*
  30. Nikki and Deja by Karen English
  31. Nikki and Deja: Birthday Blues by Karen English
  32. Nikki and Deja: The Newsy News Newsletter by Karen English
  33. Nikki and Deja: Substitute Trouble by Karen English
  34. Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  35. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
  36. President of the Whole Fifth Grade by Sherri Winston
  37. President of the Whole Sixth Grade by Sherri Winston
  38. PS: Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia
  39. The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney
  40. The Road to Memphis by Mildred D. Taylor
  41. The Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes
  42. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D Taylor
  43. Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America by Tonya Bolden*
  44. Shadows of Sherwood by Kekla Magoon
  45. Silhouetted by the Blue by Traci L. Jones
  46. Skit Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald by Roxane Orgill*
  47. Standing Against The Wind by Traci L Jones
  48. Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  49. Twintuition: Double Vision by Tia and Tamara Mowry
  50. The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
  51. Unstoppable Octabia May by Sharon Flake
  52. Who Was Harriet Tubman? by Yona Zeldis McDonough*
  53. Who Was Maya Angelou? by Ellen Labrecque*
  54. Who Was Michelle Obama? by Megan Stein*
  55. Who Was Rosa Parks? by Yona Zeldis McDonough*
  56. Who Was Sojourner Truth? by Yona Zeldis McDonough*
  57. Words With Wings by Nikki Grimes
  58. Zahrah The Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
  59. Zora and Me by Victoria Bond



Young Adult

  1. 16 1/2 on the Block by Babygirl Daniels
  2. Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
  3. Black Beauty by Constance Burris
  4. Black, White, Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong by Joan Steinau Lester
  5. Blessings in Disguise by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
  6. Boy Trouble by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
  7. Burning Emerald by Jaime Reed
  8. Caught Up by Amir Abrams
  9. A Certain October by Angela Johnson
  10. The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson
  11. Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose
  12. Cleo Edison Oliver, Playground Millionaire by Sundee T Frazier
  13. Coffee Will Make You Black by April Sinclair
  14. Copper Sun by Sharon Draper
  15. Court of Fives by Kate Elliott
  16. Don’t Fail Me Now by Una LaMarche
  17. The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm by Nancy Farmer
  18. Endangered by Lamar Giles
  19. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
  20. Eye Candy by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
  21. Fading Amber by Jaime Reed
  22. Finding My Place by Traci L. Jones
  23. Fire From The Rock by Sharon Draper
  24. Fire in the Streets by Kekla Magoon
  25. Flipping the Script by Paula Chase
  26. Flygirl by Sherri L Smith
  27. Friends ’til The End by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
  28. Get Ready for War by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
  29. Getting Even by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
  30. Glitter by Babygirl Daniels
  31. The Good Braider by Terry Farish
  32. Heaven by Angela Johnson
  33. Hidden by Helen Frost
  34. High School High by Shannon Freeman
  35. Hollywood High by Ni-Ni Simone
  36. The House You Pass On The Way by Jacqueline Woodson
  37. How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson
  38. I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson
  39. Jumped by Rita Garcia Williams
  40. Kendra by Coe Booth
  41. Liar by Justine Larbalestier
  42. Lights, Love, and Lip Gloss by Ni-Ni Simone
  43. Living Violet by Jaime Reed
  44. Lost Girl Found by Leah Bassoff
  45. Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson
  46. Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
  47. Magic Under Stone by Jaclyn Dolamore
  48. Mare’s War by Tanita S Davis
  49. Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
  50. Nothing But Drama by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
  51. Orleans by Sherri L Smith
  52. Peas and Carrots by Tanita S. Davis
  53. Pinned by Sharon Flake
  54. Pointe by Brandy Colbert
  55. Put Your Diamonds Up by Ni-Ni Simone
  56. Real As It Gets by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
  57. The Return by Sonia Levitin
  58. Rumor Central by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
  59. See No Color by Shannon Gibney
  60. Servants of the Storm by Delilah S Dawson
  61. Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
  62. Sister Sister by Babygirl Daniels
  63. Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
  64. Something Like Hope by Shawn Goodman
  65. Sound by Alexandra Duncan
  66. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
  67. The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
  68. Taking Flight by Michaela DePrince and Elaine DePrince*
  69. Tankborn by Karen Sandler
  70. That’s What’s Up by Paula Chase
  71. This Side of Home by Renée Watson
  72. Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
  73. Toning The Sweep by Angela Johnson
  74. Truth or Dare by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
  75. Under A Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
  76. Who You Wit’ by Paula Chase
  77. A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott
  78. You Don’t Know Me Like That by ReShonda Tate Billingsley



Adult (with crossover appeal)

  1. African American Women from the National Museum of African American History and Culture*
  2. The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord
  3. Black Girl in Paris by Shay Youngblood
  4. Brown Girl In The Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
  5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  6. Composition in Black and White: The Life of Philippa Schuyler by Kathryn Talalay
  7. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  8. Kindred by Octavia Butler
  9. Life in Motion by Misty Copeland*
  10. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae*
  11. Misty Copeland: Power and Grace by Richard Corman*
  12. Tears for Water by Alicia Keyes*
  13. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin
  14. The Shadowed Sun by NK Jemisin
  15. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  16. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie*



Graphic Novels

  1. Abina and the Important Men by Trevor R Getz
  2. Akissi: Feline Invasion by Marguerite Abouet
  3. Astonishing X-Men: Ororo — Before The Storm by Mark Sumerak
  4. Aya: Life in Yop City by Marguerite Aboulet
  5. Aya: Love in Yop City by Marguerite Aboulet
  6. Fight Like A Girl: Learning Curve by David Pinckney
  7. Infinity Gauntlet: Warzones by Gerry Duggan
  8. Little Robot by Ben Hatke
  9. Malice in Ovenland by Micheline Hess
  10. The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury: Time Runs Out by Brandon Thomas
  11. Ororo: Before The Storm 1 by Marc Sumerak
  12. Princeless: Be Yourself by Jeremy Whitley
  13. Princeless: The Pirate Princess by Jeremy Whitley
  14. Princeless: Save Yourself by Jeremy Whitley
  15. Princeless: Get Over Yourself by Jeremy Whitley
  16. Vixen: Return of the Lion by G. Willow Wilson